Jump to content


Photo

Lumet's proclamation of the death of film at NYFF


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 ML Scott

ML Scott
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Melbourne

Posted 21 February 2008 - 07:03 AM

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Seems extraordinarily inaccurate in parts. Never mentions latitude and contrast range. Colour rendition comments seem completely unfounded in my opinion. Understand a model of easy economics, but you can't deny the various aesthetic values of film.

Any thoughts people?
  • 0

#2 Francesco Bonomo

Francesco Bonomo
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 366 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • currently in Rome, Italy

Posted 21 February 2008 - 08:23 AM

Seems extraordinarily inaccurate in parts. Never mentions latitude and contrast range. Colour rendition comments seem completely unfounded in my opinion.


I agree: it sounds quite simplistic, superficial, inaccurate.
I don't know about you, but i've heard those arguments so many times that i don't even bother to comment anymore. The curious thing is that I've heard directors, producers, even actors commenting on the "death of film" since I can remember, but I've never heard any cinematographer giving a lecture about it.
Besides, it's pointless to talk about something that eventually will happen: I'm not really concerned about what I'll be shooting on in 10 years' time, I'm busier using the tools that are available right now.
  • 0

#3 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 24 February 2008 - 03:27 AM

Well, Sidney Lumet isn't exactly the most technically savvy film director out there. In his book "Making Movies" (which is otherwise a great read) he states that the three primary colors in lab timing are "red, YELLOW, and blue." :blink:

Don't take his comments too seriously. ;)

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 24 February 2008 - 03:28 AM.

  • 0

#4 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:10 AM

Oh god, this is hilarious! He is really embarrassing himself there.
  • 0

#5 James Brown

James Brown
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 235 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Sydney, Australia

Posted 24 February 2008 - 08:58 AM

He's not only embarrassing himself but every DP that has worked with him.
  • 0

#6 Vincent Sweeney

Vincent Sweeney
  • Sustaining Members
  • 686 posts
  • Director
  • LA at the moment.

Posted 24 February 2008 - 12:12 PM

This trend of older directors making comments like this is really odd. Coppola, Lynch, Lucas and more have all made statements like his. Lynch being the most confusing as his work has always been about textures and as strange as it might be, very high in quality. He then goes to using a PD150 to shoot his last "feature" which I saw projected and it was simply a self-serving joke. He said that it's picture quality reminded him of 1930's 35mm. He then goes into these rants about how important it is to watch films in theaters so you can fall into the worlds of the filmmakers.

What I find interesting is that many of the young, emerging masters making the opposite statements. Aronofsky, David G. Green, Paul T. Anderson, Lubeski and others have all pointed out how rediculous it is to use something just because it is new and trendy when, as EL recently said, "we have the best film cameras, stocks and lenses in history...".
  • 0

#7 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4161 posts
  • Other
  • Went over the edge... Central Europe

Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:50 PM

This trend of older directors making comments like this is really odd. Coppola, Lynch, Lucas and more have all made statements like his. Lynch being the most confusing as his work has always been about textures and as strange as it might be, very high in quality. He then goes to using a PD150 to shoot his last "feature" which I saw projected and it was simply a self-serving joke. He said that it's picture quality reminded him of 1930's 35mm. He then goes into these rants about how important it is to watch films in theaters so you can fall into the worlds of the filmmakers.

What I find interesting is that many of the young, emerging masters making the opposite statements. Aronofsky, David G. Green, Paul T. Anderson, Lubeski and others have all pointed out how rediculous it is to use something just because it is new and trendy when, as EL recently said, "we have the best film cameras, stocks and lenses in history...".


I also thought Inland Empie looked awful on the big screen, however I thought it worked quite well on DVD!
I still enjoyed watching the film at the cinema tho.

When I heard he was shooting the film on a PD-150, I couldn't believe it. I really dislike the pictures from the camera (great ergonomics tho) and couldn't understand why on earth he wanted to use it. However since then I finally remembered that the PD-150 is also known as the camera for shooting cheap and nasty porn videos and then suddenly it began to make sense. I think David did choose the camera partly for its texture. Yes it's hard to believe but that is what he wanted. If you look at the titles they have also been made to look sort of fuzzy and nasty like theres some weird colour fringing happening, and it does all fit the kind of video he made. It does sort of make sense.

I think David loves working with DV because it allows him to make the films on very low budgets too over a long period of time. Now he has shot with the PD-150 tho I'd like to see him move onto a different video texture. Perhaps a DVX100. At least that would give him a little more resolution for a film blow up and still give him some intresting qualities.

However I'd also like to see him shoot S16. He can always edit it in hi-def if he wants. I think S16 could give him the freedom he wants while still shooting film.

love

Freya
  • 0

#8 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 24 February 2008 - 03:05 PM

"Seems extraordinarily inaccurate in parts."

Nothing inaccurate as I see it. It's his beliefs based on his experience. That does not make it universal truth but his truth and with that is not inaccurate in his eyes. Sort of the equivalent of saying the Boston Red Sox are the greatest team in history. That would be an accurate statement for anyone that beloved it, but for those that don't, it's simply one mans opinion. And if a famous NY Yankee made that statement, folks would too scratch their heads, as they could not understand how someone that in their minds "should" be against the Sox could make it. As a society we emulate folks who we consider celebrities and who have status in their fields. Just as we often look at members of the ASC as the best cinematographers. But that is not necessarily a factual statement, just an idea that we believe must be true because they are a member of that club. Lumet is an old-time director with a resume under his belt so in one way as a society we believe what he says must have some weight. But when you strip away his status, he's just a director like anyone else with his own opinions that others may or may not be true based on your experience. While status tells you he must be more true to the essence of classic cinematography, reality is his beliefs are based on life experience and not his status as someone some might think 'should know better'.

My experience tells me that whether film of electronic, it's always about the story, so regardless of the plate you serve it on, paper or china, its always about how it tastes. While it might be a better setting on China, if its good, folks will look beyond the table setting. And it works the other way, when it's good, good China makes the meal that much better. But regardless, it's still about the story, and Lumet has had good experiences electronic with what he considered good stories.
  • 0

#9 chris dye

chris dye
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 35 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles, California

Posted 24 February 2008 - 03:07 PM

This trend of older directors making comments like this is really odd. Coppola, Lynch, Lucas and more have all made statements like his. Lynch being the most confusing as his work has always been about textures and as strange as it might be, very high in quality. He then goes to using a PD150 to shoot his last "feature" which I saw projected and it was simply a self-serving joke. He said that it's picture quality reminded him of 1930's 35mm. He then goes into these rants about how important it is to watch films in theaters so you can fall into the worlds of the filmmakers.

What I find interesting is that many of the young, emerging masters making the opposite statements. Aronofsky, David G. Green, Paul T. Anderson, Lubeski and others have all pointed out how rediculous it is to use something just because it is new and trendy when, as EL recently said, "we have the best film cameras, stocks and lenses in history...".


The only theory I can come up with about this is that these 'old masters' who are declaring film dead are quite possibly bored with film. They have always shot on film. As long as film is around, they can choose to shoot on film or not. I'd probably be the same way and play around with the new toys. Coppola and Lucas have been toying with Hi Def since the early 80's though.

Now the 'new masters' as you put it, probably became interested in filmmaking when film was dominant, video was seen as inferior and shooting a movie on 35mm was a dream for them. After all, if you're shooting on 35mm, you're shooting on the same thing that most, if not all of your favorite movies were shot on. If done right, it'll look like a real movie. That's the dream (at least it used to be).

I'm old school. My interest in this began long ago (in an age when video was really looked down upon). I was one of the worst snobs back then regarding video. I've loosened up a bit about it as it is starting to look better and better, but still not quite right. There's something funny about the way it looks. The differences nowadays are very subtle, but I can still tell.

I've yet to shoot 35mm and always wanted to (especially anamorphic). It's still a dream to me and I almost feel like I have to shoot on 35mm just to get it off my chest (it's been with me for years), even if it's a short. I think film will be around in 20 years, but, sadly won't be the dominant shooting medium. I won't care as long as the new medium looks exactly the same as film (and it probably will).

Edited by chris dye, 24 February 2008 - 03:10 PM.

  • 0

#10 Jonathan Bowerbank

Jonathan Bowerbank
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2815 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 24 February 2008 - 03:17 PM

His examples (ie Midnight Cowboy) are from a time before NLE, and he speaks as if he actually still handles the stock himself. All the electro-magnetic to chemical to electro-magnetic stuff is great, he says it as if he actually knows what he's talking about.

He's just out of his element, and this clip is forgetful.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 24 February 2008 - 03:18 PM.

  • 0

#11 Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 489 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 February 2008 - 04:49 PM

I think that some of the comments above are not exactly fair to Mr. Lumet. He is a truly successful director and I think we, as cinematographers, should take his opinions seriously, whether or not they are scientifically accurate, or whether we agree with them.

Certainly, he was saying that on Dog Day Afternoon, and perhaps others, he felt he was limited to the look of film. He clearly did not want this film to look like a Kodak moment. And I think, technically, Mr. Lumet is correct when he implies that digital capture can produce a more color accurate image than film capture. Film is limited in it's accuracy, even when it looks wonderful.

I think I got the impression from his remarks that he likes the workflow of digital much more than film. It can't be denied that, to a director, viewing a near final version of the image on the set has a certain appeal. It speeds the communication between the director and all departments, but especially the cinematographer. I often get the sense that some cinematographers fear this aspect of digital capture. It's as if the magic has been removed from the art when so many can express their opinion about the look, live on the set. I think it's really easier sometimes for cinematographers to get comments after dailies, removed from the moment of shooting. When it's live, everyone becomes a cinematographer. Video assist certainly did this to camera operating!

Let's not forget that the "look of film" also includes: Streaky colors, scratches, shaking, mismatched framing in projection, too dark a screen, and even sometimes reels out of order...Sure film always looks impressive at the studio or the lab or some special 1st run theaters. But for may film goers, the local multiplex rules. Hopefully digital projection will improve vastly on this situation so that more film goers can enjoy the films as they were meant to be seen.

And lastly, personally, I often find that I like the look of digital imagery. I like the lack of grain, the clean look, the color reproduction, and especially the ability to manipulate the image to my liking. I also like seeing a high resolution, color corrected preview on a monitor while I work. I think that's fun. But, before I get a reputation as a complete idiot, I like to shoot film as well though sometimes after working on a digital project, I feel like there's some smutz on the screen when watching a film :)
  • 0

#12 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:01 PM

"I think we, as cinematographers, should take his opinions seriously, whether or not they are scientifically accurate, or whether we agree with them."

When I was thirty, I was driving in NYC. I stopped at a light. An older gentleman around 75 was crossing the street. I looked at hi and had a revelation. It was the first time that I realized that he simply understood the world better than I did. I might not understand all he had to say and why, nor would I agree with it, but I knew that his life experience offered more in terms of reason than I could muster at thirty. Lumet has experience in both film and video and I'd respect anything he had to say, not because he's famous, but because he simply knows more about life. I think that notion is often lost to teh newest generations.
  • 0

#13 ML Scott

ML Scott
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts
  • 2nd Assistant Camera
  • Melbourne

Posted 25 February 2008 - 05:28 AM

I'm not really interested in trying to discredit his opinion. He has a right to one, he has experience and sure its valid as a DIRECTOR talking about his experience with film- not something I will debate.

I just wish he talked about what he knew a little more. He clearly isn't a technician, so he should spend more time talking about how it enables him more freedom with actors. Instead he vaguely (and incorrectly) talks about image quality. I would never argue that one is better than the other: IT IS PROJECT or STORY specific.

He has a right to his opinion, and sure it is valid, but I got the distinct impression he wasn't advocating what all sensible people are saying: different stories demand different formats. For a man of vast experience, it seemed a touch naive.
  • 0

#14 Leo Anthony Vale

Leo Anthony Vale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2010 posts
  • Other
  • Pittsburgh PA

Posted 25 February 2008 - 03:47 PM

Well, Sidney Lumet isn't exactly the most technically savvy film director out there. In his book "Making Movies" (which is otherwise a great read) he states that the three primary colors in lab timing are "red, YELLOW, and blue." :blink:

Don't take his comments too seriously. ;)


You're grossly under estimating Lumet.
After being an actor, he went to CBS as Yul Brynner's assistant. When he became a director, John Frankenheimer was his assistant.
He mentored Frankenheimer!

His article about making 'Long Day's Journey into Night' is reprinted in 'Sidney Lumet: Interviews'.

This is the one where he discusses lens plots. Which I found to be one of the most important articles on how to use lenses I've ever come across.
  • 0

#15 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 26 February 2008 - 12:56 AM

You're grossly under estimating Lumet.

I think Lumet is a great director and one of the most thoughtful in terms of how his films are staged and shot. But I also think some of his comments on technical matters are just plain wrong and in some cases rather embarrassing because he insists that they are true. I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing this out.
  • 0

#16 Christopher Santucci

Christopher Santucci
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 124 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Buffalo, New York

Posted 26 February 2008 - 02:23 AM

He makes a lot of relevant points. The only thing he's leaving out is the fact that if you originate on 35mm film and do a DI, you're still ahead the game compared to originating on HD. But I'd guess HD is a mere 2 or 3 years away from rivaling even 35mm film completely especially when theaters start replacing film projectors.
  • 0

#17 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 26 February 2008 - 07:22 AM

I think Lumet is a great director and one of the most thoughtful in terms of how his films are staged and shot. But I also think some of his comments on technical matters are just plain wrong and in some cases rather embarrassing because he insists that they are true. I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing this out.


My friend Bob Katz (http://www.digido.com/) is one of the most highly respected audio engineers in the recording busienss. He wrote the book on digital recording (literally). Bob can take a single stereo mic and record a live band with a stereo seperation and clarity that many would consider imposible. Yet there are many that will say that as much as Bob knows about audio, he sometimes says things that don't make sense. Moral of the story, what people say is based on their life experience and so it can't be wrong, only differnt to yours.
  • 0

#18 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 26 February 2008 - 06:12 PM

But I'd guess HD is a mere 2 or 3 years away from rivaling even 35mm film completely especially when theaters start replacing film projectors.

I wouldn't look for that to happen any time soon. There's a huge installed base of film projectors. Most of them are designed like industrial machines, they can be kept running damn near forever at a fairly low cost. There are Simplex Standards still in use that were old when the sound head was added on to them.

From the theater's point of view, you can get a film projector for about $35k, and run it until the building falls down around it. Shell out hundreds of $K for a digital, and it's obsolete before the dust settles on it. Distributors eat the print costs, they're the ones who have an incentive to push digital.

As for Sidney Lumet, I think it would be fun to hook him up with a Red camera and see how he likes it.




-- J.S.
  • 0

#19 Christopher Santucci

Christopher Santucci
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 124 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Buffalo, New York

Posted 26 February 2008 - 09:22 PM

Distributors eat the print costs, they're the ones who have an incentive to push digital.



Exactly. And what if the distributors did the math and it figured the cost of shuttling cans of film all over the place could be offset by the use of digital projectors by a lot because a digital file on a medium that could be held in the palm of the hand could be mailed for a few bucks, then what?
  • 0

#20 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4161 posts
  • Other
  • Went over the edge... Central Europe

Posted 27 February 2008 - 06:19 AM

Sidney Lumet is of course the director of 12 Angry Men, one of the most important films to ever come out of America, and if you havn't seen it yet you really must absolutely find a way to do so. Theres been very cheap DVD's of it kicking around here in England.

Sidney also sometimes has quite a sparse style which might be complimemented by shooting on video, and he is indeed a director and it does really help directors, although when you are working on that scale I have to ask if they havn't had access to a video tap before.

Sidney is also a director like Mr Lynch who I imagine has to work hard to get films made. He isn't the kind of director like for example, the scott brothers, who people throw money at to make films, so the financial freedom of shooting on video may be a big draw.

Lets remember, just as the theatres don't have to pay for the prints and so aren't intrested in fancy digital projection systems, the same is true for many directors. If you are a little director nobody has heard of then there is a big advantage of shooting on film, because theres more chance of people taking a look at it than the mountains of video they have to wade through. However if you are a name dirctor like lynch or Lumet then you can shoot the film on video and you have the name so people will still look at your work, and you avoid the film production costs and someone else has the heartache of paying for the 35mm blow-up. There is also less economic pressure in other ways.

These directors can also attract good cinematographers who can make the video look okay and talented colour graders.

Less economic pressures can mean more artistic freedom.

To give an example of another director who could shoot on video to help themselves, would be Terry Gilliam, who has immense problems getting productions off the ground. He could set up his own production company instead, shoot on video, people would be intrested because it was made by Terry and everything would be good. Not that I would reccomend this for terry gilliam as he would be sure to have some freak artic weather that knocks out the video cameras or come across some new micro-organism that eats into ccd's and cmos sensors, or most likely there would be some strange solar activity half way through the shoot that sends a magnetic pulse across his film set wiping out all the work they had done so far. Although I'm sure Terry could come out on top somehow, it probably wouldn't be worth the risk, and anyway I very much get the impression that Terry is a film guy, I'm not sure video would suit his work.

These decisions aren't as simple as people sometimes make them out to be.

BTW if anyone out there has seen 12 angry men, but not for some considerable years, then I feel it is time to watch this film again! ;)

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 27 February 2008 - 06:22 AM.

  • 0


Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Opal

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Opal

CineLab

Technodolly